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Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 28, 2007 - 03:17am PT
Mugs Stump

DOB: 28 August 1949 RIP: 21 May 1992

He would have been 58 this year. Quite an inspiration.

Thanks mate. You the man.

These images are from an attempt on the Bauman / Lewis Route on the Eye Tooth, Alaska. He was 39 at the time.

Any images or stories out there?


Aug 28, 2007 - 10:17am PT
I wrote this pasted-in-below piece shortly after Mugs passsed. It was published in a short-lived Brit magazine called . He was the man.


a distanced appreciation of Mugs

There are these mystics wandering about all our mountains. Not too many of them. It is very likely that a few of them get themselves killed in any given year. They don't make big headlines when they do, because nobody but a few other hard men know who they are or how they die.

– John Jerome, "The Hard Men," On Mountains

I didn't personally know Mugs Stump, who died last year (1992) on Denali at the age of 41, except in the way the New Testament claims: "By their deeds you shall know them." I have a deep respect for his deeds. In the early eighties I taught school with L. the quintessential armchair mountaineer. He worshipped Chris Bonington as someone might who relies on book knowledge for an understanding of the game. I remember when Outside published their article on the ascent of the North Buttress of Mt. Hunter, calling it the Last Great Problem (to give them their due, perhaps they called it the last great Alaskan problem. Either way it was one the last times I remember a climb being described in those terms). L. came in raving, flecks of spit flying in excitement: "You gotta love this guy, Mugs Stump. Can you believe this guy?" L. had found himself an American hero.
I can't help crazily juxtaposing Mugs and Jay Gatsby, the great American fictional hero who died young. Nick, the narrator of his story, speculates that Gatsby "paid a high price for living too long with a single dream." But who's to say what is too high a price?

Nonclimbers start calling climbers masochistic mystics with overwhelming death wishes; climbers maintain that nonclimbers simply don't understand. It is not that the truth lies somewhere in between these irreconcilable viewpoints; it is that the truth is unavailable.

– John Jerome

After I moved to Salt Lake City I'd see Mugs around from time to time though still didn't know him personally. The first time I saw Mugs he was hanging in the local shop, a great shop, in which it's often not possible to distinguish the employees from the people hanging around reading magazines and eating Mexican from the nearby fast food place. He was talking about routes in the Cathedral Spires. He was making them sound like afternoon bouldering problems, no doubt to appeal to his audience of predominantly sport climbers. Mugs was relaxed, no hard sell here, and at the same time I thought his expression "focused," faraway perhaps, but nothing dreamy about it. I didn't sense among the younger climbers who were listening any desire to do an Alaskan Grade VI. Precisely because they knew what was involved: deprivation, exhaustion, frostbite, and objective dangers. I can't blame them, after all, I probably have more in common with them than I did with Mugs. And while I admire them, the sport climbers who work for a month on a sequence of 12d moves, the admiration is more like that I have for a professional tennis player.
It sounded to me as if those young climbers were humoring him. Sure, they had a genuine interest; they enjoyed hearing his descriptions, but they were only window-shopping, at best. Around the same time I remember hearing a young guy at the same shop ask: "When are you going to get rid of these bogus mountaineering photos and put up some pictures of real climbing?"

The second time I saw Mugs was just last fall; one of those greater examples of synchronicity that makes you think, against such overwhelming evidence, that there is after all, some sort of plan at work (whose plan it is, and what it might mean remain, of course, in essence unknowable). I was at the bakery. That very day I had read in a newly arrived magazine that Mugs had soloed the Cassin on Denali in fifteen hours. The mere thought of it blew me away: the commitment, the speed. I have thought about the Cassin, studied the Washburn photos, had a sense of what is involved. I felt inspired by Mugs' achievement; not that I wanted to make immediate plans to do the Cassin (much less solo it), but just inspired to know there was someone out there who had done it. I felt privileged just to understand the magnitude of his accomplishment. The account added that Mugs' current home was his van in Salt Lake.
Hours later I walked to the bakery pushing my infant son in the stroller. There was Mugs waiting in line, longish hair streaked with gray. I thought twice before complimenting him on the Cassin – it was October, months after the fact. I was a geek with a kid in a bakery, getting ready to load up on far more carbohydrates than I would be burning off any time soon. Plus, I never knew how to actually pronounce Cassin – would my tendency to pronounce all foreign words as if they were Spanish betray me here? Finally, I did speak, telling him I admired the route and that soloing it was a truly amazing achievement, all the time thinking, "Is this what L. feels like?" I held back from saying I thought I might like to do the Cassin someday, thinking about how whenever someone introduces you as a writer, one in two people respond by saying, "I always wanted to write a book . . ." and if you're lucky they leave it at that. I told him I climbed on weekends and used to climb a little more. Mugs was modest – there was nothing really for him to say. I watched him drive off in his van and gave my son a raisin breadstick to occupy him on the walk home, half a mile, my only exercise of the day.

The last time I saw Mugs was at the Black Diamond open house. Many well-known climbers were there. I knew only the local people and few others by sight and reputation. Mugs was there. We nodded politely at each other–what would I say, "Hey, remember that time I saw you at the bakery?" Mugs just about fit in. He had on the right clothes–a bit more worn but clean, casually rakish. But I sensed a difference between him and the people in that crowd. It had to do with a certain indefinable leanness or readiness, and any further description lapses even further into cliché: the right stuff, the real thing, a hard man. A look more at home there, probably, than anywhere else; shared, even, by a few others. Nonetheless, I wondered if others envied Mugs. The others? Those spending fewer and fewer days in the mountains and more days taking care of business. Or was it vice versa: Did they secretly pity Mugs and might he have envied them?

I had been gone from Olympia only a few months when someone called to tell me that Unsoeld had died in an avalanche on Rainier. In the following weeks dark and speculative rumors abounded – not the sort to be voiced publicly – about how so and so had been to Rainier the day before the accident and pronounced snow conditions to be the worst he had ever seen; about how someone had heard Willi say that this next time up would be his last above 10,000 feet, that his hips wouldn't carry him any longer. Soon people began whispering, "he knew," packing into the two simple words deep and various meanings, accompanied by their own looks of knowledge. The truth is, of course, unavailable.
You will often read in tributes to climbers who die in the mountains that "they died doing what they loved," which, though no doubt true, does not mean that someone who dies climbing dies happily or chooses to do so. This "died doing what he loved " stuff is post facto rationalization that we the living make to comfort ourselves. I've joked about death during times it was probably closest. I wouldn't call it either bravado or false bravado, more like that by speaking the name of the beast, we dance with it at arm's length.
Bridwell titled the account of his and Mugs' ascent of the east face of the Moose's Tooth, "The Dance of the Woo Li Masters." There is a lot more truth to the title than Bridwell ever alludes to in the account. I don't just mean the dancing part. We all know the William Butler Yeats' poem (okay, perhaps not the poem but the concept at least) about being unable to tell the dancer from the dance –that is especially true when the dancer is gone and only a trace of the dance remains.
"Wu Li" is the Chinese term that means, roughly, "patterns of energy," or physics. But since "Wu" also means seventy-nine other things, depending on how its pronounced, the matter is considerably more complicated. Gary Zukav in his explanation of the new physics, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, gives the five essential meanings of "wu li": Patterns of Energy, My Way, Nonsense ("wu" as nonbeing or void), I Clutch My Ideas, and Enlightenment. They sound like chapters in an expedition account or a climber's biography.
But it is "masters" where Bridwell has struck a more exact chord. "Whatever he [the Master] does," writes Zukav, " he does it with the enthusiasm of doing it for the first time. This is the source of his unlimited energy." So must it have been for Mugs. How else could he climb the Supercouloir on Fitzroy, the East Face of the Moose's Tooth and the North Buttress of Hunter in a single year? How else could he solo the Cassin over ten years later, entering the fifth decade of his life?
If Einstein were a climber I doubt he would have said , "God does not play dice with the universe." Rather he would have often seen the dice rolling. How else can we make sense out of Bridwell and Mugs being able to rap off a single #3 stopper on one day and on another day for the mountain to move under Mugs' feet? So the dice roll.

When we start out climbing we are looking for something. We do not know what exactly that something is, but we know that we will recognize it when we find it. When we do find it, we are still relatively inarticulate about what it was we have found. We know that we want to find it again, bask in that moment. There is a very real sense in which these moments defy the ability of language to capture them. Peter Croft described an example of this phenomenon in his recent slide show. He said that when he sees the friends he had been with on an expedition to Nepal they don't even really talk to each other, they just sit around grinning at one another.
Mugs must have had a lot to smile about. In his own words, describing a night just below the top of Hunter's North Buttress: "I thought of what I'd done to get here, not just in the last four days, but in years past. For some reason, I felt part of some great movement, one of infinite scale, too grand to see but only to feel in the night's wind." There is a lot of the transcendent in climbing. We don't talk much about it, not only because we're not good enough with words, but that's part of our relative silence. It's understood; to speak publicly about it is–I don't know–unbecoming. Transcendency and death–the two great everpresents of climbing–we don't talk about them until we have to.
The poet Elizabeth Bishop asks, "Oh must we dream our dreams and have them too?" It's a plaintive cry. She's telling us there's tragedy in the attempt. Which brings me back to Gatsby–he made a couple mistakes: he thought the ideal could be made real, he thought you could repeat the past. Nick, the guy who tells the story is pretty much an observer of the events he writes about, the only thing he ever really does besides tell the story is tell Gatsby that he's "worth the whole damn bunch put together." Mugs dreamed the dream and had it, made the ideal climb reality, and repeated the past many times by climbing at the jagged, wavering edge of the abyss for so long. We love our heroes but we're damned hard on them. We admire them for making the choices we quite deliberately did not make. That day in the bakery I was far short of telling Mugs that he was worth the whole damn bunch put together–too unbecoming. But I think it's true; I'm saying it now.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Aug 28, 2007 - 10:21am PT
I met Mugs in Moab;.....he knew my name for I had climbed with his girl friend in Peru, and she had written to Mugs about climbing with me. We talked about climbing sanstone towers and such. A few years later, I was riding my bike from the west Coast to the east coast, and I saw Mugs and Conrad up on the Streaked Wall in Zion;.......It was cool to look up and see specks on that beautiful wall and put a face to it......He was the man. It was a pleasure to meet Mugs. Bridwell said that his two best partners ever were Mugs and Fling Brian McCray....THAT is a recommendation indeed.

'cross the great divide
Aug 28, 2007 - 10:30am PT
Mugs remains one of my heros to this day. I never knew him well, but crossed paths with him in CO and WY several times, and was always impressed by his positive and humble attitude.

Many years ago I was guiding the Snaz. My client (who is the brother of a CA climber, Ed Sampson, if I remember correctly)and I had gotten a very early start and were moving well. We were maybe four pitches up when we see a party approaching the base of the route. I was quite smug about the fact that we had started early and that we would finish the route well ahead of the party below. In maybe an hour the party caught up. It turned out to be Mugs, who was also guiding the Snaz. He was leading the route without placing any pro between belays. We shared a ledge with them, eating lunch, and Mugs told me that he was "training for the alpine" in the method he was leading the pitches.

When I heard that Mugs had been killed (from Derek Hersey, ironically enough) I got super drunk at a party that night(rather out of character for me) and woke up the next morning, somehow, in the back of my pickup. His death really hit me hard.
captain chaos

Aug 28, 2007 - 11:07am PT
Conrad, Bridwell has some good ones... if you don't have his contact info e-mail me and I'll get it out to you. I hope all's well and good job on Everest this spring- Craig
feelio Babar

Trad climber
Sneaking up behind you...
Aug 28, 2007 - 11:41am PT
my first year in Utah, a total neophyte climber, I chatted with Mugs once about some LCC routes and a long scary slab fall I had taken. Great guy. No attitude. It wasn't till a few years later, that I realized I had been to the mountain, and spoken to the prophet himself.

Cool post Conrad. Is it true you guys used carpentry nails on the streaked?

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Aug 28, 2007 - 12:09pm PT
No stories but that sad news back in 1992.

A previous girlfriend of Mugs I met in AK preached to my wife and I that guiding is dangerous stuff. Clients are always trying to kill themselves and trying to kill the guide.

Mountain climber
Aug 28, 2007 - 02:20pm PT
I was a young want-to-be groom without a master in the late '70s. Living in Telluride I met or saw Mugs a few times at parties or whatnot. Only heard through the whisper vine who he was and what he climbed (and heard more later over the years). But he had an inordinate influence on me even I never climbed with him and hardly knew him. As I recall he used to have this old rusting yellow panel van; filled with climbing gear, roaming from climb to climb or so I heard.

Now I'm over-the-hill once wanted-to-be but never became. Still dabble in the mountains occasionally, but I have an old van perpetually filled with all my climbing gear. Never thought about it but I suspect there is some influence. We can still dream of unending road-trips and unclimbed walls.

You go Mugs
rick d

Social climber
tucson, az
Aug 28, 2007 - 03:33pm PT
I met Mugs in the Valley shortly after he came off the Nose in a freak summer cold storm. I had his brother Edmund for Geology at ASU and knew of Mugs exploits for years. His partner on El Cap was some gal who kept relaying to everyone in the cafeteria about how dangerous the climb was- blah, blah, blah…Like anything in the Valley year round would be hard with Mugs as lead guy. Then Derek Hersey shows up and relays how he and his partner raced to catch Mugs to top out w/ them in tow on El Cap. Quite funny. Eric Kohl also was bitching about lightweights needing rescues. Them were the good ole days.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 28, 2007 - 09:49pm PT
Never met the guy, but he was an inspiration through his accomplishements in the mountains.

Thanks Conrad for posting this rememberance.

Aug 28, 2007 - 09:51pm PT

What an awesome dude.

R.I.P brother ............

beneath the valley of ultravegans
Aug 28, 2007 - 10:08pm PT
Damn Dolomite, that's one hell of a post...

I never met Mugs, but stories of what he did have made a huge impact on my climbing. My favorite story is that one in Krakauer's "Eiger Dreams" where Mugs is soloing the Eiger, lost or off-route, or just over it, looking for the famed "green door" into the train tunnel and thus safety. He finds it, but not long afterwards, a train comes and he's forced to think himself thin, just narrowly (maybe the width of a gnat's dick) escaping death by dining coach.

Anyhow, a few years back BD ran a "What if Mugs were alive?" double-feature (Ice Catalog 2003.) Here's Doug Heinrich and Kennan Harvey's (respectively) take on the visionary. Enjoy.


"If Mugs were still alive, he would be traveling the world exploring new, untracked terrain. His insatiable desire to discover untouched, remote, alpine regions of our planet left his files full of aerial photographs and topo maps marking the “next big project.” Always reticent to divulge the actual location of an unfamiliar massif for fear of “the word getting out,” he understood there was more than a lifetime of untouched, pristine terrain, but also knew our resources are fragile and finite.

In Mugs’ future he would have been settling down in his funky house in Draper, Utah and adopting a slightly slower-paced routine. Like most explorers and alpine fanatics, Mugs was torn with the desire to enjoy the comforts of Western society and the drive to explore the unknown reaches of the world. Impassioned about his home and securing his financial future, he struggled with the challenge of finding a female soul mate who could deal with his eccentric lifestyle and his alpine idiosyncrasies.

Mugs needed to give his body some downtime to recover from years of hard use. Training and climbing locally to stay fit overrode the luxury of rest. He realized life is linear: there’s a beginning and an end, and what lies between the two points is the journey. With Mugs there was no time to rest.

If Mugs were still alive, he would applaud the accomplishments of the Mugs Stump Alpine Award recipients as well as other inspirational alpine ascents of late. Understanding the evolution of athletic achievement and embracing the next generation when they had soul, respect and integrity for the environment was a mantra for him. Mugs professed what he called “the higher intellectual form of the experience.” Disturbed about the ever-growing population of climbers who take and don’t give anything back to the sport, he would stress about those who didn’t have a clue about style, access and the valuable resources that we explore.

The new mixed craze might have left Mugs guessing, but then again he slowly embraced sport climbing when it was new to the USA in the 1980s. Before his tragic crevasse-fall death in 1992, Mugs was psyched about speed climbing in the Valley, Zion and alpine routes like the Cassin Ridge, expressing that we were just beginning to realize what it meant to go “fast and light.” He knew that pro€ciency at all genres of the sport is what produces the best alpinist.

As an alpine leader Mugs evolved the trade and the tools of the trade—he was a visionary. For him the journey was the joy, and it still saddens me that his journey came to an early end, but his energy and smile will always be with the few who were close to him. If Mugs had a legacy to leave us, it would be: “Appreciate the approach, the route, the summit, the descent and the journey back home. Most importantly, appreciate your partners.” D.H.


"When climbing standards rise almost as fast as rabbits propagate, it’s hard for a climber’s legacy to survive solely on their resume. Historical import requires the rare occasion when someone climbs with such style and vision that their lead is embraced and promulgated by subsequent generations—many of them. Terrance “Mugs” Stump was such a climber.

Of course Mugs climbed well—the Emperor Face on Robson, the East Face of Moose’s Tooth and the Moonflower Buttress of Mt. Hunter to name a few. By the early nineties his knees were shot from his football days at Penn State, and from the mountains. It was painful to watch Mugs hobble the short approach to American Fork, yet he still soloed the Cassin Ridge in 27 hours round trip. “In a day” was just beginning to rally climbers in ’91, mostly only in perfect-weather Yosemite. Mugs, however, learned locally and acted globally. “The Cassin wasn’t the ultimate,” he said. We were all blown away while Mugs was just sensing the future. Some feel he also sensed his own demise the next year in a crevasse on Denali, his favorite mountain. Visionary—that was Mugs.

What if fate differed and Mugs was still alive? Obviously, without the Mugs Stump Award the significant climbs from the past decade would be less. If he were alive, his friend Steve Quinlan suggests Mugs would have his own guide service in Alaska, complete with Park Service bickering. Or, Mugs could have gone through the ranks at North Face, as well as the women, and would now only be kayaking because of his knees.

“I should move back into my van,” Mugs often said, “get rid of this house. How can I transcend the material plane with all this crap?” At 50-plus he’d be a curmudgeonly hero vigorously criticizing media climbs and sponsored climbers. I hope he’d be spending more time photographing. Surely he would be exploring the remote lesser ranges of Alaska and sailing and climbing throughout Antarctica.

As a gear freak, he would be climbing leashless and likely wearing a Pecker for an earring since he climbed the Streaked Wall with tied-off concrete nails. WindStopper and Schoeller would hang at the front of his closet. Everything light was right.

Michael Kennedy described Mugs “as a dedicated athlete and seeker after a higher truth beyond the physical manifestations of his chosen sport. Mugs saw climbing as a celebration of boldness, purity and simplicity.” In this way he is very much alive today. Ultimate adventures still embody his spirit of bold lightness and these parameters prompt equipment designers to make further refinements. Overall, I think he would approve of our community’s efforts to explore, watch lofty sunsets and travel fast enough to hang out afterwards around the camp€re or stove with our friends." K.H.

Aug 28, 2007 - 11:07pm PT
A Bump for Mugsy and Conrad

The Eye of the Snail
Aug 28, 2007 - 11:18pm PT

Yeah, Conrad, spin a little Rodeo Queen yarn if you feel up to it.
Wild Bill

Aug 28, 2007 - 11:55pm PT
Conrad, there's a lot of spirit in those pictures.

I remember driving from your folk's place to Mugs's place in SLC, NON fecking STOP. Not only were we trying to get there, but you told me you were practicing, as you often did, for times when you and Mugs were climbing. A zen state of denial, without water, food or even a pee break.

I complained to Mugs when we arrived, and he beamed with pride at hearing this, as if he had taught his son well.


Bill McMahon
Scared Silly

Trad climber
Aug 29, 2007 - 12:37am PT
Hey Conrad,

Funny I have been thinking about Mugs. Was up at Hell Gate a couple of weeks ago and was scoping out one of his lines, "Not Boshed Up" A nice little 5.9+R route. Saddy, some folks decided to put up a heavily bolted sport route right under it and they placed their anchors right at the crux of "Not Boshed Up". I was pretty bummed to see this for two reasons, putting anchors one someone route sucks, and it was one of Mugs routes which are often bold routes so the bolts totally changed the route.

If I do not get up to the Tetons this weekend I think I will move them along with another route that needs some clariification.

Mugs ... here is to ya, your adventuring spirit lives.


Standing Strong

Trad climber
heart and soul in the boondocks
Aug 29, 2007 - 02:53am PT


Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Aug 29, 2007 - 10:29am PT
I never climbed with him but I had the pleasure of meeting him several times in Camp 4 back in the mid-1970s, and I always admired his ability in the mountains, almost to the point of envy. RIP Mugs.
Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
Aug 29, 2007 - 12:40pm PT
Mugs on Gasherbrum 4 in 1983:

Selected Climbs -- Mugs Stump

I climb the road to Cold Mountain,
the road to Cold Mountain that never ends.
The valleys are long and strewn with stones;
The streams broad and banked with thick grass.
Moss is slippery though no rain has fallen;
Pines sigh but it isn't the wind.
Who can break from the snares of the world,
and sit with me among the white clouds?
    from a poem by Han Shan

1972–1974: Lived in or around Snowbird, Utah. Skied in the winters, hiked in the Wasatch Mountains in the summers. Competed in local freestyle ski contests for a time, but gradually turned more and more to the backcountry. Interest in climbing kindled by the desire to ski steeper and steeper slopes.

1975–1976: First roped climbs, in areas near Salt Lake City. Self-taught, influenced by reading books such as Lionel Terray's Conquistadors of the Useless and Doug Scott's Big Wall Climbing. Continued with backcountry skiing in the winters. Did his first long route in summer 1976 on Lone Peak in the Wasatch, Open Book (5.8), with Bill MacIlmoyl. Spent a month at Tahquitz Rock, California, with Bill Arthur, starting out climbing 5.6 and ending up on 5.9. Climbed the Skillet Glacier on Mount Moran in the Tetons, Wyoming, with Tom McGinty. Started climbing frozen waterfalls.

1977: Winter ascent of the Yellow Wall (V 5.8 A4) on the Diamond, Long's Peak, Colorado, with Dakers Gowans. Visited Joshua Tree, California, and Indian Creek, Utah, with Bob Sullivan, climbing several new routes, and in the spring, completed Merlin (V 5.10 A3), a new route on the North Chasm View Wall in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado, also with Sullivan. Spent much of the summer in Chamonix, France, climbing classic snow and ice routes in fast times. Made an attempt on the Dru Couloir, one of the most difficult ice climbs in the Alps at that time, with Jack Roberts, Steve Shea, and Randy Trover, but was forced down by storm. Continued with difficult rock and waterfall climbs after returning to the United States.

1978: Attempted an alpine-style ascent of the Hummingbird Ridge on Mount Logan with Trover, Jim Logan, and Barry Sparks. After spending 10 days on the lower part of the ridge (which hadn't been climbed before) the four reached the point where the original route joined the ridge; with many more days of hard climbing to go, they turned back. The route had seen just one prior ascent. Shortly after getting back from the Hummingbird, Stump and Logan returned to Canada and made the first ascent of the often-tried Emperor Face on Mount Robson, a landmark mixed climb that has yet to be repeated.

1979: Winter solo ascent of D-7 (V 5.6 A2) on the Diamond. In the spring, climbed The Shield (VI 5.10 A3) on El Capitan in Yosemite with Sullivan, then made an attempt on the East Face of the Moose's Tooth in Alaska with Logan. On his first visit to Denali, reached Denali Pass on the West Buttress.

1980: With Marius Marstad, made a 19-hour ascent of the Super Couloir on Fitzroy, Patagonia, early in the year. In the spring, climbed the Pacific Ocean Wall (VI 5.10 A5) on El Capitan with Sullivan, making the fifth ascent of what was then considered the hardest aid route in the world. Made the first of four trips to Antarctica as a safety consultant to the National Science Foundation.

1981: After returning from Antarctica, made the first ascent of the East Face of the Moose's Tooth in frigid conditions in March, with Jim Bridwell. The face had been attempted several times by the central crack line, but Bridwell and Stump bypassed this section by climbing steep ice and mixed ground to the right. This dangerous and committing route has yet to be repeated. The pair then flew in to the Kahiltna Glacier intent on the North Buttress of Mount Hunter, but the cold prevented them from even making an attempt. Stump returned to the route in May with Paul Aubrey and climbed it to its intersection with the upper ridge; he considered Moonflower Buttress, as he named the route, his best climb ever.

1982: Guided on Denali early in the summer, then went to the Cirque of the Unclimbables in Canada, where he climbed the classic Lotus Flower Tower, with Reinhard Karl.

1983: Attempted, in alpine style, the huge West Face of Gasherbrum IV in the Karakoram Himalaya, Pakistan, with Michael Kennedy. In 3 1/2 days, the pair surpassed the high point of previous fixed-rope attempts, despite being slowed by new snow. A major storm pinned them down for five nights at 23,000 feet, forcing a retreat to basecamp. Continued bad weather thwarted further attempts. Stump returned home via Chamonix, where, with Trover, he made ascents of the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses, the Super Couloir on Mont Blanc du Tacul, and several other hard alpine classics. Later in the fall, returned and free-climbed all but 20 feet of the last pitch of Merlin (V 5.11+ A0).

1984: Attempted Northeast Buttress of Thalay Sagar in the Gangotri region, India, with Laura O'Brien. Extensive waterfall climbing in Telluride, Colorado, including very fast ascents of Bridalveil Falls and the Ames Ice Hose. Many difficult crack climbs (5.11 and 5.12) in Indian Creek, Utah, including several first ascents.

1985: Second trip to Antarctica with the National Science Foundation. Ascent of the Totem Pole (III 5.11 A2) in Monument Valley, Utah, with Lyle Dean.

1986: Guided Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America, and the Cassin Ridge on Denali. Made the first of three attempts on the East Buttress of Mount Johnson in the Ruth Gorge, Alaska, with Lyle Dean. Climbed Kedar Dome and attempted Shivling in the Gangotri region, India, with two clients; afterwards, made the first of two attempts on the East Face of Meru, with Dean. Caught in an avalanche while retreating in a storm, Mugs dislocated his shoulder and was nearly swept away.

1987: First ascent of the South Face (VI 5.11 A3) of Broken Tooth in Alaska, with Steve Quinlan. Second attempt on Mount Johnson with Lyle Dean.

1988: On his third Antarctic trip, made 26 first ascents in the Gothic Mountains with his brother Ed Stump, Paul Fitzgerald, and Lyle Dean. Later in the year, made another attempt on the East Face of Meru, with Quinlan, Billy Westbay, Robin Waxman, and Doug Snively.

1989: Ascents of all the major ice climbs in Provo Canyon, Utah, in a single day, with Conrad Anker. Spent eight days pinned down in a portaledge while attempting a new big wall route on the Eye Tooth, Alaska, with Anker. On his last trip to Antarctica, he made solo first ascents of the Southwest Face (2200 meters, 5.7) of Mount Gardiner and the West Face (2500 meters, 5.9) of Mount Tyree, huge mixed climbs that were each completed in less than a day.

1990: Climbed the Streaked Wall (VI 5.11 A4+), a major big wall first ascent in Zion National Park, with Anker. Attempted the East Buttress of Mount Johnson, Alaska, with Renny Jackson. This was Mugs' third try on the route; his and others' previous attempts had been stopped at the 10th pitch, but with Renny he found a way past the obstacle via 5.10+ face climbing. The pair climbed 33 pitches with three bivouacs before retreating in the face of very rotten rock.

1991: In January, made a winter ascent (with three bivouacs) of Mescalito (VI 5.10 A3) on El Capitan, with Anker. Very rapid solo ascent of Cassin Ridge on Denali, Alaska – 27 1/2 hours round trip from a camp at 14,200 feet on the West Buttress, 15 hours to climb the route itself. Attempted the East Face of the Bear's Tooth, then did two new 10-pitch routes on the Wisdom Tooth in the Ruth Gorge, with Quinlan. In November, made a one-day ascent of The Zodiac (VI 5.11 A3) on El Capitan , with Walt Shipley.

1992: Second ascent of Prophet on a Stick, a very difficult free-hanging icicle in Provo Canyon, Utah, with Lyle Dean. First winter ascent of the Hallucinogen Wall (VI 5.11 A5) in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado, with John Middendorf. On May 21, Mugs was killed in a crevasse fall while descending the South Buttress of Denali with Bob Hoffman and Nelson Max.


sf, ca
Aug 29, 2007 - 01:13pm PT
I agree with that sentiment, Michael. The first line of the Han Shan poem is weighty and great. Reminds me of the classic 'struggle for the heights' from Camus. Was Mugs Stump ever thinking about climbing's greater societal importance?

I feel like anyone would be amused by a reaction like this to their life (like my admiration of him as symbolic of commitment). Do you think Mugs Stump would have been excited with his kind-of 'transcendent' position in climbing's annals? Hope so.


"This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart." Camus, 'Sisyphus'
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